I grew up in a household overrun with women. With 3 older sisters and a take-charge mother who ran the household, it was very much a matriarchal set up. Despite having 1 brother and an emotionally unavailable and wholly uninvolved father, the men were outnumbered and out-ruled – not by design, but simply by happenstance. So, because of the situation I grew up in, boys were always a bit of a mystery to me.
They just didn’t make sense. Poop and fart jokes? Cars and trucks and loud machinery? Taunting, teasing and pulling pigtails? What was with this weird hoodlums? And why, for the love of all that was holy, could they not just sit quietly and color like the rest of the “normal” people in class? I didn’t understand who had allowed these psychos out of their cages to run freely about while destroying everything in sight? Isn’t that the definition of anarchy? What was wrong with these strange creatures?
Because of this fundamental misunderstanding of the male species, I grew up with the misleading notion that boys were “okay” if they could just be tamed, trained and gotten under control. If boys represented anarchy, then girls represented civilized society. Boys were savage, barbaric and primitive. Girls were polished, sophisticated and refined. If boys could be taught how to behave properly and respectably, they were acceptable. If not, they were not worth my time or energy. (Oddly enough, these “rules” applied only to men outside of my family. They did not apply to my brother, and any woman who dared try to “tame” my brother was wholly unacceptable and unwelcome. But I’ll delve into that later on…)
I had nothing but the highest expectations for the men I spent time with: They didn’t drink, they didn’t swear, (They didn’t rat their hair. They got ill from one cigarette. *cough-cough-cough* Grease? Anyone? Anyone?) they didn’t tell dirty jokes, they didn’t smoke, they respected their father and mother, they excelled in school, they were kind to all animals, they didn’t spit, they opened doors for women, they waited until marriage for sex, they appreciated Chick Flicks, they didn’t look at women lustfully, they didn’t tell women what to do, they loved Jesus, they were patient, they had never tried a single, solitary drug aside of Tylenol or Advil, they didn’t listen to rap or hip hop, they dressed well, always smelled nice and never got their dress clothes dirty. Basically, I expected men to be Jesus. And in my adolescent stupor, I thought these expectations were not only totally reasonable, but also quite necessary, in order to protect myself from scary, farting, swearing men. (Oh, the horrors…)
Clearly, I had all the makings of a cloistered nun.
Basically, I expected men to be perfect. Especially any man I chose to spend my time with. I didn’t see it that way, of course. I saw nothing wrong with wanting a “good guy”… or basically a Mormon Eagle Scout. Because if I had grown up being Miss Lily White, what was wrong with looking for Mr. Lily White?
(Oh, Annie… you were so stupid.) It never occurred to me that men are simply not made that way. They are the raging bulls to our peaceable little lambs. And no amount of taming, training or civilizing is going to change that. Attempting to do so only robs them of their identity and basic humanness. And who wants that?
Apparently, I did…